In this postmortem, I’d like to reflect on the first 3 months of the GMC’s existence and our first round of grants. I’ll touch on what went well, what could be improved, and how we (the committee and also the community) might change things in the future to make it work better.
First Round Scoring/Awarding
There were some initial hurdles in trying to find ways of doing internal communication that worked for people in different time zones and with different work hours. Mentor tried his best to get us to use some asynchronous tools (sorry, Mentor) but we mostly fell back on shared Google docs/sheets and the one Discord thread. The latter quickly proved unworkable, as there were just too many bits of conversation going on in one thread. Thankfully someone (and I want to say it was Mentor again but am not 100% sure) pointed out that Discord has a forum feature. It took a bit of time to get that set up with the Team, but once we did, it helped immeasurably. I can imagine that in future rounds there might be a forum thread for each application which will make asynchronous communication much easier.
The other thing that worked really well was the Zoom call we ended up doing. We couldn’t find a time that worked for all 7 of us, but we did find exactly one time that worked for 6 of the 7. Huge shout out to the Europeans on the committee who did the call at a really late hour for them. It was the most efficient 2 hours I’ve had in a meeting in a long time, and it allowed us to square away a lot of things that were still outstanding. It’s possible that with the forum feature in place from the beginning, the Zoom call will no longer be necessary, but I’d encourage the committee to try and keep it as a fallback option.
There were a few folks who I personally would like to have seen more engaged in the scoring and award discussions process, but in the big picture I actually think there’s been a really good balance between people who were very active in the first month on setting up the rubric/our communications and workflow tools, people who were active in the second month on scoring and awarding things, and people who were active in the third month of setting up and disbursing awards. Across all three months I think the other members of the committee all did relatively similar amounts of work, and I guess I’d just encourage people to continue to be as active as they were during their peak part of the last cycle. Having three additional members will also help with this.
Public vs. Private Discussion
This came up in several different places (including on Discord and here on the forum). Most of our conversations took place privately. I believe that’s necessary for people to speak honestly about the awards and for the efficiency needed to get things done in time. Our one attempt at having a channel where the committee could speak with each other publicly but with the community watching, rapidly devolved into the people not on the committee regularly entering the conversation. That is basically unworkable at scale and I quickly gave up on trying to remind people that it was supposed to be a publicly-viewable place for the committee to talk but not to interact with the community (as such spaces existed elsewhere and were sadly underutilized).
I am sympathetic to the criticism that, especially if the committee continues to come to consensus on votes (which is often a good thing), the community has no data on which to base future votes for re-election. One suggestion I’d have is that next time the committee publishes non-anonymous feedback. That would allow members of the community to see exactly what each member of the committee has to say about each application. It would also have the happy side effect of getting more members of the committee to fill out the *$&#ing Google Form with feedback. I was a bit sad that we only ended up with 4 of 7.
A big thanks to the folks who participated in the Community forum post during the application/scoring period. I found it very helpful to see what people not on the committee thought of things. I’d encourage more people to participate in that next time.
Personally, I was really happy that there were no official RPIP challenges to the first round. I was ready to come out proverbially swinging, but it was nice to not have to do so. The more challenges that come up and are successful, the less we incentivize volunteer committee members to spend real amounts of time on committee work. I can’t speak for others, but if I was still on the committee and a bunch of our things were routinely getting successfully challenged, my inclination would be to say the heck with it and just fund everything at the asked amounts and leave it to the community to challenge things. Fortunately, the others on the committee are better people than I, but I do think that’s still a risk. My personal thinking on the challenges is that they make sense in the context of disagreeing with the decision to fund or not fund something (or I suppose fund something at such a low level that it might as well have been not funded), but disagreements over specific funding levels feels like micromanagement and gets us into the incentive question above.
The retrospective award cap
This is dumb and it should be eliminated. I think I’m done prevaricating in my language. We’ve already committed to making the awards. All the cap does is force people in the community who have made valuable contributions to wait for their funds and make the accounting harder for the GMC Treasurer. If we were interpreting the cap to mean “the committee literally cannot even announce awards for RAs that are more than 50% of the total announced awards” I would think that was a dumb policy but at least it would be doing something. As it stands the cap just puts an artificial limit on the pace of payouts but the committee is still going to function moving forward like those funds are already being used. See below for other possible future RPIP-15/18 changes, but when we do another round in a few months, I’d strongly push to eliminate the cap. If a community member really thought the committee was using too much funds for RAs, that would be a legitimate reason for a challenge.
Schedule moving forward
One thing we talked about as a committee during the challenge period was the possibility of switching to an open-ended application cycle. I think it would be wise to run at least the next couple of grant rounds in April and June to see how many applications come in and how many good ones are having to wait between periods, but most people on the committee seemed to agree that just having open forum threads for grants/applications/RAs might work now that we’ve established some general baseline for comparative funding. It was really important to have them all come in at once to begin with (and I think will still be useful for the next couple of rounds) to give the committee a large number of applications to compare for adjusting award amounts and getting a sense of how much demand is out there for the GMC’s treasury, but perhaps come the summer we can move to a cycle that looks more like “Submit your application in this thread at any time, community has one week to make any comments, GMC will respond within two weeks (inclusive of the community’s one week for comment), community has two weeks to challenge. Any successful application is therefore receiving funding within a month of being submitted”. The main fear for not doing this initially was workload/burnout concerns for the GMC but with the Discord forum feature and with the committee building up a portfolio of previous decisions to use as guidance, it should probably be manageable, although I also suspect that shifting to this model will induce more grant/bounty/RA applications.
Community expectations of the committee/GMC Manager
This is kind of a big one for me but I’ve been lazier than I should have been in gathering evidence so I’ve been a bit loath to write it up. As someone who is/was on the GMC, and particularly as someone who felt very committed to seeing it succeed, I couldn’t help but notice every time someone in #trading or governance or on the forum mentioned that the GMC should do X, Y, or Z. I really wish I’d kept a list because I suspect it would be a really, really long list. To be fair, a lot of these are the kinds of random ideas that get thrown out once in #trading and then never surface again - although there’s also currently a pretty long list of potential bounty ideas in a forum thread, each of which requires at least one person on the committee to take ownership of managing if it’s funded.
To some extent, I think the default of “the GMC should do X” happens because right now the formal structures of our pDAO are (a) an IMC with a very specific remit and (b) the GMC, who are also the people with all the money that is supposed to be spent on everything from marketing to coding to research to support to bizdev to partnerships, etc. And that’s it. It is therefore natural that whenever someone has an idea for something, especially something that someone has to pay for, they would default to suggesting the only existing pDAO group that has money and a pretty vague remit would be the people to do it.
The flip side of that is that I don’t really think most of the people on the GMC had that in mind when they decided to run for it and, even if they did, are likely too busy with life (including other RP stuff) to become the catch-all executive branch and also sort-of legislative branch of the pDAO. There are probably a variety of solutions to this, but the one that, at least right now, I’d most favor is the hiring of a part-time GMC Administrator. Their main job would be more on the “grants/bounty administration” and less on the “grants awarding” side, although I suppose they could also be the one tasked with setting up the forum threads and interfacing with applicants. Their main tasks would be to be the contact person with any grantees, including doing verification checks of completion of work, serving as a liaison between the grantee and the committee when there was a technical question beyond their expertise, organizing and publicizing any bounties as well as doing a first pass of checking on successful bounty claims. If that was deemed insufficient work for a part-time position, I imagine we could expand it to include things like organizing the scoring sheets, publishing award results, collecting community input on grant/bounty/RA applications, etc. I don’t know how much we’d have to pay to get a strong candidate who would be trusted by the community and the committee, but with an existing GMC treasury nearing a couple million dollars in value, it seems like the position should be fundable.